Habitant (inhabitant) In NEW FRANCE, habitants were free proprietors who were differentiated from indentured servants and those whose stay was perceived to be temporary. By the late 17th century, "habitant" came to mean peasant proprietor, as opposed to seigneur or town resident. Finally, in the waning years of the 18th century, when landless peasants had become common, all those who earned their living from agricultural labour were known as habitants. See also SEIGNEURIAL SYSTEM.